Others Look to Steal Spotlight

By Mercer BaggsAugust 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' Players and their practice round tee times are listed on a sign outside the merchandise tent at Medinah Country Club. Tiger Woods name was on there Wednesday; however, it was a part of a statement in the top, right corner that read, No Tiger Woods as of 10:20.
 
Maybe hes coming out later to see how the course plays in the afternoon, pondered one fan to another.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods showed up briefly Wednesday to prepare for the PGA Championship.
As patrons looked up and down the big board they noticed another name conspicuously missing.
 
I dont see Phil on here, pointed out one person.
 
Another chimed in with: This sucks.
 
Phil Mickelson was offsite Wednesday, as he usually is the day before the start of a major championship, playing Chicago Golf Club. Woods, meanwhile, actually did show up. He arrived late in the afternoon to get in a little time on the practice range.
 
If this small sample of fan interest indicates overall sentiment, then once again the primary focus at a major championship is cast on a pair of players ' the top two players in the world.
 
And not everyone seems to mind. Case in point, Jim Furyk, who says hes quite content with the amount of attention he receives, and with his place in the game.
 
You know, it's never mattered, he said in his pre-tournament press conference. Im happy with where I stand in the world of golf.
 
Whether or not I show up on TV every week versus Tiger or Phil or whoever it may be, is not important to me. I think the guys that get the attention or get more attention than me are deserving of it and are obviously great players. I get my due.
 
Furyk is hoping to receive his due Sunday evening in the form of the Wanamaker trophy, as are 153 others who are not receiving nearly as much attention combined as are a certain two.
 
In the shadows of Woods and Mickelson, Furyk has risen to No. 3 on the Official World Golf Ranking. And given his recent performance, as well as his past success in Chicagoland, he has to be considered among the second tier of favorites this week.
 
Furyk has finished inside the top 5 in each of his last four starts, including at the U.S. Open and Open Championship. He tied for fourth in his title defense at the Western Open, held at nearby Cog Hill, and his lone major championship came in the 03 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, also in the area.
 
Chicago has been good to me, he said. Hopefully I can have a good week.
 
Hes not the only one with such hope.
 
While Woods and Mickelson, who will be positioned alongside one another over the first two rounds this week, will garner the lions share of attention, others are hoping a sideshow can again steal away spotlight ' just like at the U.S. Open.
 
Geoff Ogilvy was the surprise winner the last time a major was contested on American soil. As is PGA Championship custom, he will be grouped with fellow 06 major winners Mickelson and Woods Thursday and Friday. Despite his status as the reigning U.S. Open champion, Ogilvy knows that he will be the third wheel in this threesome ' and it doesnt bother him one bit.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy is looking to dial-up another major upset.
Im very comfortable being the smallest name in my group. Any time you get to play with the best golfers in the world, it has to be a good thing, said Ogilvy, who also captured the Accenture Match Play Championship and could earn Player of the Year honors with a win this week.
 
If that doesnt happen, there are several other eager ' and worthy ' wannabe major winners.
 
Sergio Garcia may well be at the top of that list.
 
Garcia is coming off a disappointing finish to the Open Championship. He started the final round one back of leader Woods, but struggled out of the gates Sunday at Hoylake, eventually shooting 73 and finishing seven behind in a tie for fifth.
 
It was yet another missed opportunity to win one of golfs Big 4, and one of his best since this tournament, at this venue in 1999, when he made his formal introduction to the golfing world, nearly coming from behind to topple Woods.
 
He failed to do so that week. Seven years later, the 26-year-old finds himself still without a major, and still answering questions as to reasons why.
 
Its not easy to go out there and win a major when youre young and even when youre in your 20s, said Garcia, who has 11 career top-10 finishes in majors, but only one in the PGA since his runner-up finish in 99. Tiger has been able to do that plenty of times, and you expect everybody else to do the same. Its not that easy.
 
Chris DiMarco can attest to that. Hes finished runner-up in three majors, including to Vijay Singh at this event in a playoff in 2004.
 
Like Garcia, DiMarco is coming off a failed opportunity to win the Open Championship. But contrary to Garcia, DiMarco performed quite admirably in the final round, coming up just short to Woods.
 
He enters this week brimming with confidence.
 
I have great memories from when I put myself in position at the British Open, and if I can get myself into position like that again, I feel like I learned a lot from that week, said DiMarco, who was buoyed at Royal Liverpool by the support from his family and the memory of his mother, who suddenly passed away just weeks before that tournament.
 
That week has given me hope for the rest of the year and hope for my career. So Im looking forward to finishing this year out strong. If I can go out and do something crazy and maybe win a couple (of events) coming in, it could be my best year ever.
 
Another player looking to turn around his season is Ernie Els. The South African hasnt won on the PGA TOUR since the 2004 Memorial and is still trying to fight his way back from a knee injury that sidelined him for this event a year ago.
 
Els was just one off the lead after 36 holes of the British, but shot 71-71 over the weekend and finished in third place.
 
He believes that better putting and a better frame of mind are necessary to capture his first PGA Championship title, which would give him three legs of the career Grand Slam.
 
Ive got to do a couple of things a little better under pressure, and thats been on my mind a little bit, said Els, who has finished in the top 5 in each of his last two PGA starts.
 
It feels like my game is not too bad at the moment. Id like to hopefully be in contention again.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

    Getty Images

    Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

    Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

    The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

    “Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

    Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

    But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

    Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

    “It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

    There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

    It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

    “It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

    Getty Images

    Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

    According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

    Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

    Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

    Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

    Getty Images

    Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

    Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

    Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

    “I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

    Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

    “Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

    Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

    On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

    “These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

    Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

    More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

    Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

    Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

    “He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

    Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

    He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.